Friday, February 19, 2010

Sarah Palin, John Edwards and Media Bias

Here is a very interesting story from the New York Daily Post by Jamie Weinstein called: "Palin versus Edwards: A Case Study in Media Bias." Weinstein makes the valid point that the media bias against the conservative worldview that Sarah Palin holds it the real reason she is so vilified and hated. John Edwards is not objectively smarter or better qualified than Palin, but since he represented the worldview held by the liberal media he was not attacked or ridiculed as Palin has been:
"No one can confuse me for someone who is an enthusiastic supporter of Sarah Palin. I think Sen. John McCain's selection of Palin as his 2008 running mate will be counted among the very worst legacies in the Arizona senator's long and storied career.

Nonetheless, there is little question that Palin has been treated unfairly by the press, at least in comparison to other politicians.

And no comparison best illustrates the double standard the media has with Palin than how they treated another former vice-presidential nominee, Sen. John Edwards.

When in 2004 John Kerry picked Edwards, whose entire resume in public life at that point consisted of six years in the U.S. Senate, to be his vice-presidential nominee, few questioned whether Edwards was qualified for the post.

Search "Edwards is unqualified" in Lexis-Nexis from the time Edwards was tapped by Kerry through Election Day 2004, and you get 11 results. Do the same for Palin and you get 174 results - and the search period is nearly two months shorter for Palin, because she was picked by McCain much later in the 2008 election cycle.

We now definitively know just how much of a liar, cheat and phony John Edwards is. But if the media had been one half as interested in exposing Edwards as a fraud as they have been in excoriating Palin, perhaps it would not have taken the National Enquirer to discover the truth that has led to the downfall of a politician who had a very real chance of becoming President.

One of the media's favorite attacks against Palin revolves around her failure to tell Katie Couric what magazines and newspapers she regularly reads. The clumsy answer was an early flash point that led many to scoff that the Alaskan governor didn't read anything at all.

But guess who doesn't read very much either? That would be John Edwards, if you believe John Heilemann and Mark Halperin's new book "Game Change." According to their reporting, when a friend inquired if John Edwards read a particular tome, his wife, Elizabeth, apparently found the idea of her husband reading laugh-out-loud funny, saying, "Oh, he doesn't read books."

Yet this impression of her husband as an anti-intellectual "hick," as Elizabeth reportedly referred to him, never became a common undercurrent during his his 2004 campaign for vice president or his later run for President.

So why did Palin get painted so quickly as a bombastic dunce and Edwards escape without such a negative characterization?

It probably has to do with the fact that most members of the media bought Edwards persona. They liked his world-view.

They believed in his claim that there were "two Americas." So they didn't dig deeper to see if there was any substance beneath his shiny surface.

Palin was never given the benefit of the doubt, in large part because the world-view to which she subscribes is anathema to the one held by so many pundits and reporters."

Now there is nothing wrong with members of the media holding political opinions. But there is something wrong with pretending to be objective and then being allowed to get away with trying to manipulate public opinion by biased news reporting. There is a reason why Fox News exists and why it is now trusted by more Americans than the so-called "mainstream media." Things have come to a pretty pass when Fox is not the most biased media outlet in the US.

1 comment:

Peter Dunn said...

The NY Post article is pretty much spot on. Only I would criticize them for not getting behind the irritated response to the very blond Katie Couric's question about what newspaper's she reads. It is very clear from the Ziegler interview that Palin felt that Couric was insinuating that Alaskans are country bumpkins who barely even know how to read. So her response was, yes Katie, we have newspapers in Alaska. It was a gut level reaction that many Alaskans would have, myself included, when confronted with an East coast liberal snob.